The eCommerce Law passed by the Philippine government last June legally recognizes electronic documents and signatures. The foundation for the development of a secure legal framework for electronic commerce has been laid.
However, the eCommerce Law is far from complete. The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) of the Philippines is still fine-tuning and developing the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) to address potentially controversial legal issues concerning jurisdiction, intellectual property and privacy, among others. Through the Information Technology and eCommerce Council (ITECC), the DTI continues to draft policies and guidelines, working towards the complete implementation of the eCommerce Act.
ITECC has drawn up a set of preliminary rules pertaining to e-commerce which concern the regulation of certification authorities (CAs), trade and consumer protection, as well as a process for government re-engineering where government agencies are to adopt electronic transactions within an allotted two-year period.
The council has also established a number of mandates pertaining specifically to PKI that are directed towards both the government and the private sector.
For the public sector, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) has made e-filing of Income Tax returns (ITR) available to the country's top 700 corporate taxpayers. The first half of this project employs third-party Digital Server. The second phase will see the use of client-side digital certificates to establish non-repudiation. The project is expected to be completed within this year.
The Supreme Court of the Philippines has also started to include specific Interim Rules of Court affecting evidence, jurisdiction, venue and notarial law, which can be applied to electronic documents and signatures.
As for the private sector, ePLDT, a subsidiary of private telecommunications company Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company, has partnered with VeriSign to form mySecureSign to issue digital certificates.
Other private companies, dealing with retail chain stores, real estate and education, have also moved towards adopting PKI and plan to provide digital certificates to facilitate electronic transactions such as purchase orders and requisitions.
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